When I came back to India, I made it a point to get a BSNL connection along with Internet. During those days, we only had BSNL and Airtel as options in Bangalore. After having spent more than three years in the US, I came back with a fairly idealistic view. I wanted to try out the government services and really see for myself, how easy or difficult it is.
Getting the connection was not very difficult. I had to go to a BSNL office, fill out an application form and drop it in another office. I paid about 500 rs (if my memory serves me right) for the installation. Folks at the office said, it will take a couple of days for the connection to come through. It took about one week. Still not too bad considering what one used to say about government services.
We never had a problem with the phone service. The telephone instrument they gave us, was also very good – even though it was not a new equipment. The Internet was very good when it worked. I had asked for a 2 mbps connection, and for the most part, the surfing speeds were good. But, the connection used to go off intermittently. Ironically, the connection would go off often during friday or over the weekend. I used to call them up to try and set it right. After a series of steps, the person on the other end would say “oh, I know the problem now. Don’t worry sir”. And I would heave a sigh of relief and ask; “so, the connection will come back now?”. And the response would be, “no no, the problem is with a server at this end.” And I would go; “yes, so when can I get back to my work? I need the Internet.”. The person at BSNL with all authority would say, “this is the weekend, and our engineers cannot fix the problem now. You check on Monday or Tuesday.”
After a few of these incidents, I decided to switch over to Airtel I put in the request to BSNL and asked that the connection be closed. I gave off the instrument, put the request, at their main office in Jayanagar and received a receipt for the close-out as well. It was a small bit of paper with their seal on it. I carried it carefully in my purse for more than 8 months. I will tell you the reason in a minute.
Every month after I put in the closure request, I used to get a bill for my BSNL use, even though I had cancelled the request. For the first month I called and asked that they cut off my service. They said, I still have my deposit. I said, I dont need it, and they need to switch off the service and not send me bills any more. But the bill still came. I ignored it for a couple of months. Then the wife said, the amounts are going up and we can get in trouble. So we went off to the BSNL office and produced our chit and said, we had requested for the connection to be cut off. And still we are getting the bills. What should we do?
The officer looked at the bill and made a remark to his colleague something to the effect of ‘another cancelled service’. Then he told me, “sir, you don’t have to pay the bill. If you dont pay the bill for six months, we will automatically cut off the service’.